tv Melissa Harris- Perry MSNBC November 3, 2013 10:00am-12:00pm EST
is an election. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. if i asked you what day is november 5th and you answered, duh, melissa, it's tuesday, instead of, enthusiastically offering the alternate correct answer, it's election day in america! well, you're in good company. because it's election day 2013, an odd number, which makes this an off year election. and well, to be honest, we tend not to get too excited about off year elections if voter turnout is any indication. in fact, it's not uncommon for voter turnout percentages in some off year state and local elections to be in the single digits. and that's among people who live in the jurisdictions that will be directly impacted by the outcomes of those elections. given the level of disinterest among people who actually have to live with the consequences of off year elections, finding a
reason to care about the electoral politics of a state where you don't live is probably asking a lot. but here's why you might want to start paying attention. because you may not be one of those civically engaged citizens who will be voting on election day 2013, but chances are, you will be part of the slightly larger percentage of americans who will be checking a box on election day 2014, and the significantly larger population of americans who will cast a vote for president in 2016. and the decisions made by that small minority of voters on tuesday could have an outsized impact on the electoral choices we'll have all to make in the next three years. especially in the two states whose gubernatorial elections are the country's most closely watched contests. virginia and new jersey. the only two states whose citizens elect a governor the year after the country elects a new president, making them a bellwether for the future direction of national political wins. especially this year. on the heels of a deeply
unpopular government shutdown orchestrated by an even less popular and highly divided republican party. the political fates of chris christie in new jersey and ken cuccinelli in virginia, the two republicans in the running have a lot to tell us about just what kind of republican can get elected these days. now, on the one hand, you have christie, who, if recent polls showing him clobbering his democratic opponent, barbara what's her name by a 19-point margin are any indication, it's the kind who wins elections. correction, the kind of republican who can win elections in a blue state that gave president obama 58% of the vote in 2012. now, on paper, chris christie is as conservative as they come. opposition to reproductive rights? check. he defunded planned parenthood and refused to fund new jersey state family planning centers. standing strong against marriage equality? check. he recently backed down from his efforts to block same-sex
marriage from moving the forward in new jersey, but only after a long, long fight to keep it from happening. advancing economic austerity policies, check. opposing organized labor, check. suppressing votes by politicking a plan for early voting, uh, check. slashing public education budgets, check. that's the policy record of chris christie. but policy is not perception. and when it comes to winning elections, who you are as a candidate matters, but not as much as who voters believe you to be. and when we consider the perception of chris christie, we think about this guy, the one shaking hands with president obama out of gratitude for coming to the rescue of his storm-ravaged state. the one hugging president obama and letting president obama touch him, actually touching the same president who is positively radioactive among his fellow republicans, looking much like a reasonable republican, if ever
there was one. then there's this guy, virginia republican candidate for governor, ken cuccinelli, who despite numbers showing an increasingly close race between him and democratic candidate terry mcauliffe, still can't manage to shake off his second place spot in the polls. this in a purple state, that despite going for president obama in the last two presidential elections, hasn't previously picked a democrat for president since 1964, and gave victories to gaap candidaop can the state level in '09 and 2010. which may say something about what voters think about the cuccinelli kind of republican, the kind that has the same conservative policies as chris christie, but also does things like waging a war on sodomy, and who actually wanted the the supreme court to weigh in on where he thinks consenting adults should and should not put their parts. and said that, out loud, where we could all hear him. though some people who were listening, apparently liked what
they heard. to the tune of $20 million that have poured into cuccinelli's campaign coffers. of course, it falls far short of the $34 million that terry mcauliffe has raked in. but all those millions do tell us something else about what's to come from these campaigns, because according to the nonpartisan group, virginia public access project, most of the money for both campaigns came from outside the commonwealth of virginia. and if the interest groups who did all that spending decide after election day that buying themselves a governor was a good bargain, you best believe they're going to be reaching into their pockets again, maybe this time to buy a few members of congress, maybe even a president. of course, all the dollars don't add up to much without a key ingredient in the secret sauce for winning an off year election. what is it? i think public enemy's chuck d. said it best. ♪ how low can you go?
>> yeah, base. except for democrats, the question in tuesday's election is of base, how many can you turn out? because it's only the most motivated of voters who make up the off-year electorate, and the party can't count on the motivation mustered by the democratic base when president obama was at the top of the ticket. so all the campaign dollars and crazy conservative opposition won't amount to much for democrats on tuesday if they can't fill up the polls, what is it again, chuck? ♪ base ♪ how low can you go? >> joining me now are ari berman, contributing writer for "the nation" magazine. cristina beltran, associate professor of social and cultural analysis at new york university, mark alexander, a law professor at seton hall university and former senior adviser to president barack obama and katon dawson, national adviser to rick perry. katon, because the last person i quoted was chuck, i've got to come straight to you on this.
i promised you yesterday, i would give you a chance to sleep on it overnight and come back and tell me, right, what kind of republican is the kind that can win? is it the cuccinelli republican or is it the chris christie republican and will the republican party take the lesson of a cuccinelli or a christie win into 2014? >> obviously, chris christie has certainly all the democrats worried. i mean, he's spoke to the base. he's spoke to the issues. he's legislatively has a good record. and the confusion from the liberal democrat side is, how is this guy winning? they like him. he's a likable candidate. he's personable. he's represented new jersey. and he's a jersey boy. he is. but how well that transfers out of new jersey is going to be the question of how they pivot when they do -- and it's obvious they're going to pivot. and you put him, bobby jindal, that we like, that you don't. >> that's right! >> i got it. i got it. and you put a whole string of our stars out there that are running states, the nikki
haleys, the bobby jindals, the mitch daniels, the former governor now of indiana. you put all those out there and put them on the stage, our problem is, our stage is going to be so large, that the republican party is going to have to define who they are. nobody thought barack obama was going to win. he was in last place. it's early yet, but the nice thing is, is everybody here today is worried about chris christie and we on the republican side are right proud of him. >> there is no doubt that the gubernatorial bench, and governors are easier to elect to the u.s. presidency, that the gubernatorial bench is just deeper for republicans. but that said, i mean, part of why we wanted to point out that chris christie and ken cuccinelli are the same kind of republicans substantively is like once you start digging into a chris christie, can he really win in a big, in a presidential election? >> and the reality is, he's a very conservative person. and that may really appeal to some folks, some voters, but also he has a personality. he plays in jersey. you know, in my state, he's a
jersey guy. people have resonated with him. he does nothing that we really agree with. and the question is does that personality translate into other places? will it translate in south carolina in a primary? i don't know that that appeals so well. >> the polls in new jersey shows chris christie with 30% support among african-americans. look, if republicans could get 12%, much less 30, right? that's a pretty enormous number. ari, as we have been looking very carefully at these elections, though, the fact that cuccinelli is hanging in as closely as he is in virginia makes me want to say, okay, the notion that there's some great, reasonable republican train coming your way in 2014 is probably not quite accurate. >> and he's hanging close because of terry mcauliffe, because nobody's excited about terry mcauliffe. >> oh, god. >> this is the classic lesser of two evils election. the thing is one evil is so more magnified than the other. electing cuccinelli is like electing ted cruz.
he has done nothing to moderate his image. it's not like bob mcdonnell, the governor now, who was pretty conservative, but ran as a more pragmatic conservative. and what we saw in the republican party, it's not a split between moderates and conservatives. it's a split between conservatives, two different kinds of conservatives. chris christie is the more reasonable conservative, ken cuccinelli is the more extreme conservative. >> let me go back to the mcauliffe problem. that seems to me to the extent that democrats are going to face their own problems come 2016, it is exactly that. that stage of people that have been hanging out for terry are the same folks we have been hearing about. in other words, the clintons are coming back and we'll see the clintons again in 2016. and honestly, i'm thinking, there are a lot of democrats who think that's the way to go. and yet it may begin to feel like, is it the '90s again in the democratic party? >> i think that mcauliffe represents one of the more seedier elements in hillaryland. i think that he is not going to hurt her. seizu she has her own brand that's
distinct from her brand. but he represents this clintonian centrism that there's not a lot of enthusiasm for in the democratic party. she's popular a lot because of her personality, kind of like chris christie. people may disagree with some things she's for, but they like her personally. and if mcauliffe loses, it would be really bad for hillary, but if he squeaks through, they'll say, it's another victory for the clintons, let's move on. let's ask you about the base piece. because in the end, whatever these big factors this money are, it will come down on an off year election to go-tv, to getting that vote out. who's better at that these days? the democrats or the republican party? >> it will be by state, right? in virginia, there's a lot of new latino and asian american voters. and this will be a chance to take a stand. that segment of the base may be really mobilized in this particular moment. the thing that really struck me is you have two states in which -- christie is going to get elected in a state in which the majority of voters don't agree with his policies, right?
this is about his question of style and sort of messaging and his ability to do that, it's about rhetoric, not policy, right? so the question of whether or not, you know, we can really think about, you know, how do voters respond when it's about rhetoric? and the fact that we sort of look at these two and say, they're similar. but people say, this one talks one way. but they vote the same. >> i would also suggest as much as terry mcauliffe is not a particularly exciting candidate, he is better than, who is running on the democratic side in new jersey? the other great truism is you can't beat somebody with nobody and chris christie is definitely somebody. >> you have to feel sorry for virginia voters, because i keep thinking of chuck robin, only north. >> oh! you took us back to an ugly, ugly moment in the commonwealth. >> hold for me right there. we'll stay with more on virginia and new jersey and what it has to do with the big election picture, specifically this week in voter suppression, election edition. what that is all about, next.
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we are back. we have been talking through the whole break about election day 2013. tuesday's outcomes in new jersey and virginia will be decided by candidates and messages and mobilization efforts on the ground, but as we look forward to 2014 and '16, there is another key factor that might decide elections. the 180 new voting restrictions introduced by republicans in 41 states and passed in key battlegrounds like ohio, florida, pennsylvania, and wisconsin, under the guise of stopping voter fraud. and the push to curb voting rights has accelerated since the supreme court's decision, with seven states passing or implementing new voting
restrictions that disproportionately impact people of color. that warning comes from my guest, ari berman, writing for "the nation," in his new piece, "jim crow ii," a history of the fight for voting rights and the move to restrict them once again. so we did not see the voting rights measures in 2012 have the effect that we had originally had anxiety about. if anything, they had a bit of a boomerang effect. but now do you see these laws as potentially affecting impacts? >> absolutely. it's going to be a lot harder in an off-year election, a lot harder without barack obama on the ballot. and texas are voting on tuesday for voter i.d. amendments. their voter i.d. law is now effect because of the supreme court's decision overturning section 4 of the voting rights act. and we're already seeing the outcome of voter i.d. in texas. just yesterday we learned that former speaker of the house, jim wright, who's 90, was denied a voter i.d. in texas, because his
driver's license has expired, his tcu faculty i.d. is not accepted. he's 90 years old. he showed up at the dmv, was told, you don't qualify. his assistant got a copy, a certified copy of his birth certificate and now he's going to be able to get an i.d. that costs $22, by the way, otherwise known as a poll tax. how many 90-year-olds are going to have an assistant to be able to do that? by the way, we've also seen, a judge had to sign an affidavit to be able to vote. wendy davis, candidate for governor, had to sign an affidavit to be able to vote. greg abbott, the republican candidate for governor, had to sign an affidavit to vote, because his name on his i.d. is not the same as his name in the poll book. so we're seeing at the very least a lot of people get inconvenienced by this law. we know 600,000 to 800,000 registered voters don't have the i.d. there. can you imagine what it's going to be like in texas when wendy davis and greg abbott are running against each other for governor? >> and the greg abbott piece has
the sense of poetic justice, like at least he's getting caught up in his own thing. but he has resources available to him that others don't. when you talk about abbott in texas, it's also a reminder that in virginia, the other seat that is open here, where there's a big fight. in fact, maybe the last one that is competitive in that state at this point is the attorney general's seat. and that mark obenshain is somebody who particularly, reproductive rights advocates are pushing to make sure he does not win that attorney general seat in virginia. >> folks are really organizing against him, which is exciting. but you proubrought up this quen of turnout. we have two things going on. one is, we all know that voter fraud is not an issue. we don't have a voter fraud problem, we have a voter turnout problem. we have a problem in our democracy that you began, that not enough people are active members of our democracy, they're spectators rather than participants. but the other side of this that i've been thinking more and more about is how does the right think about voters in terms of -- they don't think they're
the silent majority anymore. they think they're the true americ americans. and the true americans aren't necessarily the majority of voters. so i think there's something going on around trying to protect the electorate from the majority, which they don't really see as real america. and i think that's one thing -- i try to figure out, how do they justify this. >> so katon, i think cristina brings up an interesting point here, because there was this silent majority, and now we are the purse cu the persecuted minority. we've seen this in alabama, there's a race going on in alabama, that is the battle between the relatively more reasonable conservative republican and the tea party conservative republican, and the money is all coming in for the more mainline conservative republican, which is just emboldening the tea party guy who's saying, well, that's right, i'm running against the establishment here. at some point, you do need an actual party, an actual establishment that can whip your
folks into line, so that you don't have things like the government shutdown. >> well, we have a problem in the republican party, and it's not conservatism, and it's not our governors. it is probably defining inside the base. the beautiful thing we said back in the room is, the nice thing the liberals don't have is they don't have an organized wing to come form primaries up against their people. we do. >> that depends on whether or not you write for "the nation". >> news on the republican side is pretty easy to go. we've got the wagons circled and people riding in them like chris christie. a lot of good republicans sitting out there. and we're all firing the guns at each other, inside primaries. and that's causing us pause, because they're ugly, they're tough, and this next cycle, we get to define with the chris christie, with the bobby jindals, we get to define who we are. and that's our problem, melissa. we've got that internal fight on what our party is about. we also have had the white house for eight years.
we also have george bush on the ranch. y'all have got bill clinton out there, doing a lot. so we're a little leaderless. we've got an rnc, but john boehner in my opinion has done a marvelous job. we'll keep the house. >> okay. on that -- >> i knew that would -- >> because that made my brain melt and flow out of my ears, that john boehner is doing an excellent job, i'm going to go to commercial on that. but i'm going to come back on exactly this question. there are 17 seats that are going to determine whether or not what katon just said is true or false. we're going to talk about those when we come back. my customers can shop around. but it doesn't usually work that way with health care. with unitedhealthcare, i get information on quality rated doctors, treatment options and cost estimates, so we can make better health decisions. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. an important message for americans eligible an important message for for medicare.
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2014 midterm to secure majority in the house of representatives, and then maybe a law or two could get passed, you know? a win for democrat terry mcauliffe in virginia's g gubernatorial election could bolster hopes. of course, a lot can happen in a year. and there's also the weight of historical precedent hanging over this election. traditionally, the party that wins the white house goes on to lose the virginia gubernatorial seat. and the post-shutdown polling that gave democrats an eight-point advantage in the 2014 midterms has since been cut to just four points, making rumors of a republican demise in the u.s. house very premature. so, mark, katon tried to convince me yesterday that republicans can run against obama care again, come this midterm election. that will be part of the kind of narrative. is 17 completely impossible for democrats to do? or are there some ways to
target. is it possible the democrats can re-take the house? >> sure, the democrats can do that. and the question is if the republicans continue to say no to everything. that becomes a problem for them. right now they're seen as saying no to obama care, not offering another option. they're seen saying no, we're going to shut down the government. they're constantly saying no, offering no vision at all. and democrats come forward with a vision in district after district. things can change. but the challenge is there's got to be a strong, positive message from the democrats. these problems we're seeing with the initial rollout of the affordable care act have to be pushed aside, but as we were talking about before, too, the democrats have president obama, vice president biden, hillary clinton, bill clinton, leaders who people respond to. and right now the republicans, they're in this battle for their soul. and who knows where they stand. that's, i think, going to hurt them ultimately, because they're lacking a strong, clear leader, and i think that's where the opportunity lies in 2014. >> if i was being as generous as i could, i would say, okay, so democrats have a strong, clear leader, but not much of a bench. in other words, in order to win
these seats, we have to have people to run for them, right? and particularly what the republicans have been doing since the '80s, from doll catg r to president, they run everybody in every single seat, there are no safe seats anymore. but -- so if they're lacking a leader, we have a leader, but man they've got a bench. their bench is a bunch of whackco birds, as john mccain called them, but there are a lot of people prepared and ready to run, often with very few resources on the republican side. do we have people to run for those seats? >> there are people to run for those seats, but this cultivation has to be happening now. and the republicans for a long period were very successful at doing that. but the reality is, the republicans are these battles you were talking about before. the tea party is killing off their chances. they've lost the chance to get to the senate several times. and if the tea party folks keep saying, we're going to destroy the party, that's just a better opportunity for the democrats. and it's a battle for the soul of the republican party, which katon and i were talking about this during the commercial break. right now the republicans are in
big trouble. it's a big problem. their cycles. right now the republicans are in a very bad one. that will change. and the question is can the democrats take advantage of that now, because this is the opportunity politically speaking for democrats. >> but remember, the first thing that republicans did after taking power in 2010 in all these places was redistrict the lines to secure the majority. that's not the only reason why they're more secure, but that's a big factor. so democrats have to run in a much tougher map. there are 17 districts that obama won, where the republicans have house members. 17 is what they need to flip it. obviously, if they can win all these seats, they would be able to take back the house. but that said, they have to win all the democratic seats, all the leeb democratic seats, all the toss-ups, and then the lean republican seats. it's a very, very difficult map. >> let me ask that. i actually think, as much as it would be fun to take the house, right, just to sort of see what it would look like to governor, i am interested, katon, in the possibility that the more important thing for democracy
might be less about whether or not democrats take those 17, than whether or not there is an organized set of business interests that can push reasonable republicans, rather than tea party republicans, into those spaces. has redistricting created a situation where chamber of commerce and others simply can't even get centrist republicans, centrist conservative republicans? >> let me unpack it first. we won governors offices in states. and that's how you redistrict. governors offices up now, like chris christie, like terry in virginia. from my side, we had to go into statehouses is and start winning statehouses before you can redistrict. we didn't invent that system. we just took it to a new level. second of all, the difference in the republicans right now and what you're talking about in the chamber of commerce republicans, and republicans we have, it's the same thing with the democratic seats. they've moved so far to the left, they're not negotiating -- >> oh, there are no left democrats. you show me one. seriously, there are like four left democrats left. >> and what i say is, mark and i don't agree on much, but we like each other and at least we can
govern. that's our problem now. we've got a governing problem now, so it's not just republicans keeping their seats. and we're going to keep the house, the senate is going to be competitive, and what happens in the next three or four months is going to -- >> if you look at your south carolina -- >> i know it. >> the democratic districts are more democratic, the republican districts are more republican than they've ever been before because of redistricting. >> we'll talk more about that redistricting question and also about the big dogs that have been out and whether or not the star power on the right can shine as much as as the star power on the left. mike rowe here at a ford dealer with a little q and a for fiona. tell me fiona, who's having a big tire event? your ford dealer. who has 11 major brands to choose from? your ford dealer. who's offering a rebate? your ford dealer. who has the low price tire guarantee, affording peace of mind to anyone who might be in the market for a new set of tires? your ford dealer. i'm beginning to sense a pattern. get up to $140 in mail-in rebates when you buy four select tires with the ford service credit card.
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nation's number one democrat, president barack obama will be speaking at a mcauliffe rally in just a few hours today. for his part, ken cuccinelli has drawn the support of republican party stars, who appeal to a much narrower slice of the gop electorate. names like, you know, fbj, forget bob by gin da, ted cruz, scott walker, and former texas state representative, ron paul. so, look, i -- it just -- the clintons and president obama are in a different league than a ron paul and a louisiana governor bob yby jindal. that said, the fact that katon can keep saying all these names of brown people who are governors on the republican party makes -- a certain part of it is a little surprising, given what you were saying about the new majorities, that we can't name the people who will inherit the obama and clinton legacy.
>> on the one hand, you have this sort of star power, but it's a somewhat dated grouping of folks, you know? the clintons, they're incredible, they have all this star power. hillary, who knows what's going to happen, she'll probably run. but we don't have, yeah, what is that next generation of folks, i think is an interesting question. but the other thing is, the republican party right now, in terms of surrogates, whoever they bring up is divisive. because they're having a fight in the party, whoever shows up there is going to be an argument about -- it's not going to mobilize the entire base. it's going to cause one segment to go, oh, that's exciting, and one segment to go, i hate that job. >> and particularly in virginia, to bring mr. ted shutdown cruz in to stump for you seems like a bad idea. >> yeah! >> although i will say one thing. i do think that the party is -- we were talking before about what it means to win back the house. and i think the republican party, despite all its infighting, is still driving the debate. we're talking about their arguments and their policies. and a lot of times we've been winning elections by just saying, like, look at that guy. that's really bad.
and so we need to figure out in the next period of time how do we articulate an agenda that isn't just reliant on pointing to the crazy guy next door and saying, i'm not that guy. >> this is how i was feeling at the point we were celebrating re-opening the government. i was like, excuse me, now we're having a celebration that people are going to return to work and we're going to return to sequester levels. and the notion that we can't even push past that, because they aren't still driving the debate at the moment. >> and that's a complete shift, you know, at seton hall where i teach, we always talk about how the rules shape the outcomes. and what has happened is a lot of folks have taken truliy the n the primary to get folks into office. small voter turnout in a primary, get yourself elected. totally right. districts, when they're redistricted, heavily republican, then you've got folks who are sitting there saying, we are now going to shape the outcomes and the debate will be, do we keep the government open or not, that's a crazy debate. >> in a post citizens united
world, we're going to get elections like in virginia. >> all the money from the outside. >> all the money is coming from the outside. voters aren't that enthused about either candidate. tons of money pouring in. so you're getting more money, less participation. and unfortunately, what's happening in virginia is a trend for things to come. if we don't do something about how we figure out who's going to run for office. >> when you invoke citizens reminder, it is a reminder that perhaps the biggest issue at stake, going forward in three years in the 2016 election, is that if you end up with a republican president, we know that our current court is already conservative balance, but also that the young people on the court are mostly the conservatives and the more elderly members of the court are people who were appointed, for the most part, by democratic presidents. if a republican wins in november of 2016, do you think all the democrats will retire -- or all the people who had been appointed by democratic presidents will retire between november and january 19th, in order to -- >> confirmation battles take too long. the reality is that, you know,
if we get to any time in 2016, whoever's retired has to be retired to be replaced before the election comes. there'll be a total shutdown. of a democrat or a republican. >> we were yelling at the base during this last election, that this election is about the supreme court. and it resonated in the base. you know, terry mcauliffe there bringing out the clintons, that's a big hitter. we bring out the others and we've got our president george w. bush in texas. and one of these days he'll come off the ranch and he'll help us. i know y'all don't believe that, but we need a leader to help -- >> you heard it from katon dawson, that when george w. bush comes off the ranch, it's going to help republicans and john boehner is doing a great job! this is why we love katon! >> there you go. >> thanks to ari berman and cristina beltran and to mark alexander. katon's going to stick around a little bit more. my special message is next. it's to a young woman who is facing a struggle that far too many girls know all too well. i don't miss out... you sat out most of our game yesterday!
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in just a few minutes, we're going to have a conversation about hunger in america. hunger that is about to deepen for tens of millions of americans, because the federal budget for nutritional assistance has been slashed. but before we do, i want to talk about hunger of a different kind. the hunger that some young women impose on themselves because they suffer with disordered eating. this week, i received a letter from a woman in a small town. she is terribly worried because her 14-year-old granddaughter is suffering with self-imposed starvation. she barely eats 600 calories a day and has developed low blood pressure and has stopped hanging out with friends or even pursuing the activities that she loves. now, grandma reached out to me because we hear on mhp show sometimes send words of encouragement to young people who are navigating the challenges of growing up. these are challenges that so many of us in nerdland have faced. we know what it's like to feel different and we know what it's
like to look different. and we have felt the sting of rejection and worried about fitting in. in my teen years, in the aftermath of surviving sexual assault, i, too, succumbed to an eating disorder. my battle with bulimia raged for years, and i still struggle with disliking the woman i see in the mirror, but i was blessed to have family and friends and teachers who allowed me to see myself through their kind and forgiving eyes when the glare of my own lens was too harsh. now, grandma asked me to protect the confidentiality of her 14-year-old granddaughter, so i'm just going to say to you, dearest girl, please reach out and grab the loving hands that are being offered to you. if you're recovering from a trauma, i beg you to tell someone you trust. and if you're feeling alone, i'm asking you to believe that you're surrounded by love. and more than anything, i'm asking you to try to eat, just a little bit, just today. try feeding the beautiful self that is you. feeding your body can help to clear your mind and eating
affirms your right to exist. give yourself permission, today, to feel full. start with today as the first day that you don't have to starve to prove the that you are worthy. and grandma, don't you give up. because your love and care may be the one thing that makes all the difference. nerdland is with you. it doesn't usually work that way with health care. but with unitedhealthcare, i get information on quality rated doctors, treatment options and estimates for how much i'll pay. that helps me, and my guys, make better decisions. i don't like guesses with my business, and definitely not with our health. innovations that work for you. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare.
on friday, s.n.a.p. funding connected to the 2009 stimulus expired, cutting $5 billion from the food stamp program over the coming year. households of four will lose about $36 a month, which is a meaningful loss when monthly benefits nearly always run out by the third week of the month already. that means more hungry days and the slashing of s.n.a.p. is not done yet. a conference committee began working this week on reconciling the house and senate farm bills.
and the farm bill traditionally houses any changes to s.n.a.p. funding. both the house and the senate have proposed nor cuts in their version of the farm bill. the senate bill would cut about $4.5 billion from the program over ten years. one house bill would cut almost ten times that amount. $39 billion. it's all but certain that billions more will be cut from s.n.a.p., a program that helps feed $47 million americans. now, we've said it before and we're going to say it again. this is shameful. this is hurting tens of millions of americans. children, the elderly, the disabled, and for an amount that will not balance any budget. and what's more is that lawmakers clearly find it politically beneficial to cut food assistance. some find it so beneficial that they're willing to lead the charge to take food out of the mouths of children, like congressman marlin stutzman of
indiana, who helped write the bill that would cut $40 billion from food stamps. when the cuts were first proposed, he told "the wall street journal," it's a big victory. joining the table now, congresswoman carolyn maloney, democrat of new york. joel berg, executive director of the new york city coalition against hunger. maya wiley, and still with with us, republican consultant, katon dawson. so congressman, let me ask you this, why is it politically, strategically beneficial for any of your colleagues to lead the charge against food stamps? >> well, you've got to put it in perspective. this is the same team that closed the government for 16 days, that cost the economy, by some economist measures, $24 billion. this was a self-inflicted wound. so they put this pain on the public and then they're causing more pain by not continuing the recovery money, the $5 billion, that is so desperately needed.
this past week, i went to two of the centers in the district that i represent, and when you see the faces of the children and the adults, many people are working, but they're on minimum wage. they need this supplement for their families. many of them are looking for jobs. economists tell us, for every job opening, there are three people waiting in line, and one in seven people in america are on food stamps. and to me it's unconscionable that the most prosperous country in history is getting food lines that are going to be longer and longer. and this is on top of, to put it in perspective, the sequestration, which is across the board cuts, and on top of the conference committee now that is looking at a $40 billion cut versus a $4 billion cut. so it's very serious and it's very wrong, and we will fight that and hopefully change it. >> and the congresswoman's point that one in seven americans rely on some form of food assistance over the course of the year, right? so not everyone is on it all year long, but people especially
because of seasonal work, often need it in their households. and yet in states like mine, in louisiana, 20% of the population, so one in five. in mississippi, almost one in four people relying on s.n.a.p., yet those are precisely the elected officials. those republican elected officials from the deep south, most likely to be standing on the side of cutting those benefits. why? >> i've heard it said on the right that somehow obama is buying votes with this program. but out of the 20 states that have the highest level of food stamp s.n.a.p. participation in the country, 16 voted for mitt romney. now, there are two lines of republican attack. one is legitimate, but i think mistaken, and one is illegitimate. the legitimate attack is, gee, so many people are unemployed, it's obama's fault. if the economy wasn't in such bad shape, we wouldn't need this. i agree with that, although the people making this attack are the people that caused the collapse of our economy. the second attack, i believe, is race-based or at least racially tinged. the implication that people are
somehow takers and the implication that they're non-white, even though the majority of the people on the food stamps program always are and always have been majorly white. >> there are people raging against the takers, because those people are someone else. but i also want to point out that it was in -- that the s.n.a.p. extension was in the stimulus bill for a reason. food stamps are economic stimulus for everybody, whether you're part of s.n.a.p. or not. >> that's a really critically important point. not only do we have a ballooning -- i mean, the political conversation, that's legitimate, is about the deficit, right? and about what it means to be having a program that has ballooned as large as s.n.a.p. but s.n.a.p.'s ballooned because people are out of work and have been out of work at record numbers for over a year. so -- but one of the things that the congressional budget office has said is that number one, this is not our fiscal problem, because by 2019, without
congress doing anything, by 2019, it's going to shrink and it's going to be at 1995 numbers in terms of gross domestic product. so it's not our economic problem, and for every dollar we spend on a food stamp to feed someone who is hungry, we get $1.70 in economic activity. >> yep. >> that's bang for the buck, as well as just right. >> i just don't want to miss that, right? that when -- that what we do is we create elasticity. and right, republicans are supposed to get this, right? you guys are supposed to be the ones who get the numbers of this. that we create elasticity in the budgets of people living at the margins, right? so once you provide a food assistance, then more dollars can be spent on gas and can be spent on heating and can be spent on even consumer goods, that, of course, because we live in a consumer based economy, prompt the economy. katon, this is actually bad for the thing that republicans should care about, which is, growing the size of the economy.
>> growing -- what we're stating here is that growing government will grow the economy. that dollar that we talked about is not free. that is a taxpayers' dollar. 47 million people out of 315 million need assistance. but our disagreement from the republican side is, that dollar is not free no matter what the program is. it creates economic activity, but that dollar is coming from, we've had to borrow it or get it from the taxpayers. >> but our taxes are -- >> -- woman gets to make their choice on what are the priorities. we talked about mental health yesterday. >> but our taxes are at historic lows, katon, our taxes are at historic lows, and the fact is, there isn't any other entity big enough and worthy enough and willing enough to give the kind of stimulus necessary, right? what we've seen is that private industry, despite its huge profits, is holding on to job creation, it's holding on to dollars, it's not investing, and when you shut the government down, they become even less willing to. >> and melissa, to your point,
and katon, all of these dollars, they're not going to be saved. they're going to go plowing right back into the economy, to the small business, to the grocery stores. >> so they can then hire another -- >> do you agree that we've got to start prioritizing our spending some time -- >> yes, i would say we prioritize feeding children! coming up next, the faces behind the figures from the s.n.a.p. cuts. we'll meet just a few of the 47 million people in the crosshairs. and if you missed it last night, don't worry, because we're going to show you how scandalous things got on "saturday night live." we stand for kerry washington in nerdland and there's more nerdland at the top of the hour. in the nation, sometimes bad things happen. add brand new belongings from nationwide insurance and we'll replace stolen or destroyed items with brand-new versions. we put members first. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪
when ouwe got a subaru.s born, it's where she said her first word. (little girl) no! saw her first day of school. (little girl) bye bye! made a best friend forever. the back seat of my subaru is where she grew up. what? (announcer) the subaru forester. (girl) what? (announcer) motor trend's two thousand fourteen sport utility of the year. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. we've been talking about this week's devastating $5 billion cut to the supplemental nutritional assistance program, also known as s.n.a.p. or food
stamps. the cut happened friday after a temporary boost in s.n.a.p. funding expired on november 1st. the boost was part of the 2009 stimulus, intended to help people through the recession and it expired ton friday, despite the fact that unemployment remains well above where it was before the financial crash. there are 47 million people in the s.n.a.p. program who will be impacted by these cuts. now, this story, thankfully, has been getting some of the attention it so desperately deserves. but telling the story is complicated, especially on tv. we can't put 47 million people on tv all at once, and we can't interview 47 million people. so to show you who they are, we're left with two choices. we can either tell you a lot of statistics and hope that they shape a picture in your mind, like these facts, that more than 80% of s.n.a.p. benefits go to households with children or the elderly or people with disabilities. or we can show you just a few people who we think are embl emblemat emblematic, and who we hope that you will trust us that these
people are who you should think of when you think of the 47 million people who need help to keep from going hungry. our colleagues at the fox news channel want you to think of people like this 28-year-old wannabe rocker and proud beach enthusiast as the face of those 47 million americans. >> meet jason greenslate, food stamp recipient. >> another day in the life of jason. >> but here at mhp, we've presented viewers with a decidedly different face of hunger, like tiana gaines turner, a working mother of three who relies on s.n.a.p. to feed her family. >> everyone has something to say about someone who lives in hunger and poverty, yet they've never sat down to the table, they're not involved at the table, they're making decisions in which affects our lives without even having conversations with us. they think they have the answers. >> and this week, my colleague kra chris hayes on his show, "all
in," offers a report that shreds the fox news notion of who relies on assistance to get food. here's an interview with one mother who relies on assistance to feed her family. >> every day you count your money, if you have $307, you're going to spend $200 this week, you can't go over. once you go over, before the month up, if it's three or four days, your kids don't have enough food to eat. so it's very hard, and to cut it, a lot of people are going to suffer. >> joining me back at the table are congresswoman carolyn maloney of new york, joel berg of the new york city coalition against hunger, maya wiley with the center for social inclusion, and republican strategist, katon dawson. so, joel, you see some of these 47 million faces on a regular basis. what do we need to know? >> you need to know, first of all, the attack against their food isn't about deficit reduction. the very same people who voted
for an orgy of corporate welfare in the last stand-alone farm bill, some of whom are benefiting personally to the tune of millions of dollars going to their family's pockets, all of a sudden, when it comes to the $1.40 or $1.50 per meal are outraged that our government would spend money feeding our neighbors. second, we need to know, this is about working families. 80% of the able-bodied adults on the s.n.a.p. program were working the year before or the year after, getting this help, and most households with a working adult are still on the program because they can't get higher wages. s so i challenge the other side, if you're against the spending, join the president's call to increase the minimum wage, that won't cost a penny of government spending. >> congresswoman barbara lee was on set when miss tiana gaines turner was on with us. and congresswoman lee was so impressed by miss turner, she said, look, i want you to come and speak to congress on paul ryan's hearing about this. and ryan refused to let tiana come to speak.
congresswoman, isn't it the obligation of elected officials to talk to the people who are directly impacted by policy, before making policy? >> they should be. and if they go back to their districts, i can assure you, every congressperson's district has food pantries and soup kitchens and churches and synagogues that are providing food to people. and they're telling me in my district, i bet it's the same across the country, that attendance is up 40%, because of the economy, the great recession, and because of these cutbacks, it's going to be even greater. and a gain in the richest country in history, that we're not going to feed our people, and provide food to them, and children who are hungry can't learn. so it becomes a cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity and the least we can do is continue -- we should be adding to these programs, not cutting them. and i agree with barbara lee, we should have a democratic hearing on our own if they won't let her
speak. >> so one of the -- i really want to underscore joel's point, because there's a woman who's 27 years old in chicago, who's been working at mcdonald's for ten years. she makes $8.25 an hour. okay, that's $1 above minimum wage an hour. and when she -- and she can't feed her family at the end of the month. when she called up -- mcdonald's has something called mcresource for employees, to help them with things like health benefits and -- and what mcdonald's told her to do was to apply for food stamps. so either we can tell mcdonald's, as a lot of workers are, pay a fare wage, then maybe we could have a principled conversation about how we bring down the roles. because i think we all want to see people not having to rely on these programs. but it should be because they can feed and take care of their families. >> i want to underline two things that you said there, that i just don't want folks to miss. one is this point about the money running out before the end of the month, which we also heard in the "all in" report.
about 90% of s.n.a.p. benefits are spent in the first three weeks of the month. so what that means in part, in our public schools in new orleans, you and i were talking about this before the show, congresswoman, is that we see a discernible uptick in behavioral problems in school, a discernible uptick in our crime rate as a result of s.n.a.p. benefits running out and people actually being too hungry, children being too hungry to do work in schools in that last week. >> i was in mississippi a few weeks ago, talking to families, and these are the stories i was hearing. there are children in high school right now who are getting these supports right now, which are not sufficient, do not feed the family at the end of the month. and here's what they do in school. they know which kids will not eat, which portions of their lunch. so after they've gotten their free lunch, right, their subsidized lunch, they then wait in the cafeteria, so that they can collect the food items off the plates of other kids who leave those items, so they can take them home and have dinner.
>> what it translates to is $1.50 a meal. and with these cuts, it will be $1.40 a meal. you can't even buy a starbucks with that. >> and it's 21 meals a month. >> i want to point out your point about corporate welfare. the fact is, even food stamps that are feeding people are still a form of corporate welfare. walmart gets 18% of food stamp spending. so they pay an insufficient wage, then their folks get food stamps, and then they go and spend them at walmart. and when asked about the fact that this bill was going to cut, they said, well, no problems. walmart actually hopes the change will help it to gain market share, because having less money to spend could make shoppers more price conscience, which walmart says is a potential -- so actually cutting the food stamps could increase their market share. i'm sorry, that makes me a little nauseous. the idea that walmart is excited about that. katon, there really is a
fundamental, moral question on the table here. >> there is. and it comes down to something, i think, the difference in the political parties. jack kemp in 1998 at the republican convention sort of defined the difference in political parties. jack said, democrats measure compassion by how many are receiving government aid, and republicans measure compassion by how few need it. and i think the two parties are going to have to come together, because it's the dignity of a job, not just a job, but the dignity of a good job and an economic climate and an environmental, to pull us out of this economic downfall that we've been in, with everybody's got shared responsibility in it. so it's really the dignity of a good education and the dignity of a really good job to move us away. because i don't think anybody here applauds the fact that we have a country with 47 million people. >> sure, sure, sure. but that -- there are no more jack kemp republican -- for one thing, you guys like buried jack kemp.
i don't know if y'all should say his name anymore. >> we did. >> but beyond that, that idea of people not needing it. i'm down, i would prefer people have the capacity to purchase food. and in fact, as you said earlier, maya, the cbo suggests that we're going to see a down -- that already, as a share of gdp, the amount of the food stamps is going to tick down on its own, as people get jobs. not so much for dignity -- dignity is great. i'm all down for dignity, but i'm also down for eating all four weeks. >> it was interesting, when we talk about the farm bill, one of the things at the house, while it wants to cut so deeply into food stamps, has not been willing to cut as much as the bipartisan senate version of the farm bill, is these commodity subsidies. >> let's go there. >> 75% of these subsidies to farms for certain kinds of products like wheat and soy goes to 10% of farmers. 10%. >> let's take a break and then go exactly there.
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some of you might be wondering why are food stamps part of the farm bill, anyway? well, the answer lies in the 1970s when a group of lawmakers, including former house speaker, tom foley, who died just last week, decided that the only way to get city-dwelling lawmakers to vote for billions of dollars for subsidies for farmers to attach food assistance for urban residents to the farm bill. as fred richman, chair of an
agricultural subcommittee who combined the bills told "the new york times" in 1977, "we forged a real working urban-rural coalition. the average city fellow up to now has automatically voted against every farm bill." so the question is, how do we go from using food stamps as leverage to add votes to the farm bill to a place where everyone, republicans and democrats, want to cut food assistance to the poor? so congresswoman, i love this story, in part because we tend to think of things like earmarks or log rolling or favors as bad government policy. but, in fact, the farm bill is emblematic of how sometimes you've got to put things together in order to get things passed. is something like this even possible in our current congress, in the 113th? >> i've never seen us so divided, as we are now. not only on nutrition. you think you would be united on nutrition, you think you would be united on keeping the government open. >> yeah, raising the debt
ceiling. >> you think you would be united in so many areas, but it's the worst i've ever seen it. and 80 tea party republicans signed a letter that they would not vote for any budget, unless it totally defunded obama care, providing health care to 30 million people who need health care. i've never seen anything like this in my life. and the whole shutdown was a way to slice away at obama care, which they were not successful at. it was a new way of governing. you had a bill, went out in another election, it was a defining issue of the election, the president won with 5 million votes and it's still on the floor being attached. it used to be, we would have a difference of opinion and come together and vote on it, but annoy they want to add all these unrelated things to the budget vote, and it's very divided and hopefully will be decided in the next election, people will decide that they don't want this type of tea party extremism, and
it's the same team that pushed to close the government, that is pushing on the food stamps and the nutrition programs. >> and that same team that is willing to shut down the government and that says the government is bad, and that is willing to take food off the tables of poor people are also, sometimes, the very same people getting these massive subsidies or big, crop insurance, that we see in the farm bill. why is it that food stamps are so easily politicized, but the farm part of the farm bill is still kind of off-limits? >> lobbying. >> i love the clear answers. >> i mean, this is -- you know, poor people don't have a lot of money for very expensive lobbyists. no offense. i'm sure you're quite affordable. >> and available. >> okay. and you'll work for some -- it's really about money and politics. because these are huge, huge corporate contributors. they're extremely important,
particular in the states, which are highly rural and a lot of these products. and poor people, frankly, don't have as much political clout. it's that simple. >> and look, i don't want to hate on farmers. look, family farmers are -- but that's, for the most part, not who's -- it's mostly not family fae farmers, it's soybeans and corn. >> and huge number of people get farm subsidies for land they've never seen. agro businesses have donated over $600 million to federal campaigns over the last decade. look, i know the s.n.a.p. program, the food stamps program is a big target, but people need to understand, it's the only part of the poor people's safety net left. welfare, as we know it, is gone. i worked for president clinton's administration and i supported welfare reform to move people to more living wage jobs, but less than 10% of even the food stamps recipients in america get cash welfare. housing assistance is gone. this is the last thing that low-income people used to survive on.
>> this is such an important point. we stopped building affordable housing. we have stripped away the social safety net over and over again. we talk about this massive expansion of the food stamp program, but it's because it was the only thing left to catch people. >> i think it's incredibly important that we have rural communities and people be able to farm sustainably. and a lot of the crops that poor people can't afford, fruits and vegetables, the farm bill was not subsidizing those crops. it's a lot cheaper to buy a bag of potato chips and a soda than it is to buy a tomato. and that doesn't make sense. so we're not even necessarily -- i'm not against subsidies for farming. in fact, i think we need some subsidies for farming, because as we see climate change, we need more food. we need the right food and we need to make sure family farmers, medium farmers can be in the game, and that people in their communities can get that product. >> this is sort of that whole
big story, right? you subsidize corn, corn becomes all of those sugar substances that go into packaged food. packaged food is cheap. people with very few food subsidies have to buy that. they're buying it from the walmart. so the people who actually end up enriched from this whole process are the most wealthy people, and yet, it's the only thing that we have left. katon, maybe folks could really get down with a shrinking of this part of the social safety net if there was also a willingness to have a discussion about how farm subsidies current work and the ways in which they subsidize the wealthy. >> and that's the way washington works, you hit it. it's the powerful lobbies, the subsidies that go out to wherever they go, and the small farmer. we talked about it the last time we talked about s.n.a.p. we had the administrator of one of the small farmers programs. and that's one that we see in my home state of south carolina,
whether it's farmer's markets or whatever it is, and they're becoming fairly successful courtesy of the restaurant industry. but the crux of the problem is, you're talking about changing washington. that's what you're talking about. >> but a restaurant industry, which still pays less than minimum wage to people. >> but they do provide jobs. >> true. thank you to congresswoman carolyn maloney, to joel berg, to maya wiley, and to katon dawson. i'm going to shake this off a little bit, because up next, did you stay up late last night? if not, don't worry, because we've got highlights of what happened when "scandal's" kerry washington hosted "snl." >> it's fun to play a strong, fearless woman who's not afraid to constantly drink red wine in a white pantsuit. >> olivia! >> hi, bobby. it's kerry, actually. we talked about this. >> whatever, listen, hey, i need your help. doing it with a cold, just not going to happen.
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look, if you've been watching this show, you know we love us some "scandal" here in nerdland. we are gladiators, as olivia pope might say. the actor who portrays her, kerry washington, is the primary reason we are glued to this show every week. so you might imagine, we love it when she is able to stop by and talk to us about her amazing hit drama or to prove our addiction, we even had a "scandal" watch party right here on the show. so there is no way on earth that we're not going to take a moment to notice miss washington, when she's been working down the hall from us at "saturday night live" all week. and last night, she became only the eighth black woman to ever host the iconic sketch show, which currently doesn't have any black female cast members. which they recognized right off the top of last night's episode, where washington starts outplaying first lady, michelle obama. >> michelle, it's -- this is such a treat. i feel like it's been years since i've seen you.
>> oprah winfrey has arrived for the dinner and she would love to pop in and say hello. >> that's wonderful. >> what a nice surprise. >> isn't it? so don't you think you should go and get changed. >> why? >> so that oprah can come in. >> oh, because of the whole -- >> yes, exactly. >> and keenan won't? >> nope. >> well, in this case, i will leave and in a few minutes, oprah will be here. >> thank you, mrs. obama. >> the producers at "saturday night live" would like to apologize to kerry washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play tonight. we made these requests both because miss washington is an actress of considerable range and talent and also because "snl" does not currently have a black woman in the cast. as for the latter reason, we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future. unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.
>> i'm here! >> and, perhaps inspired by us here in nerdland, kerry also did a political discussion sketch, with cast members, keenan thompson and jay taffaro. >> what would it take for barack obama to lose your support? would barack obama lose your support if he left the christian church and converted? >> converted to what? >> islam. >> [ speaks foreign language ] >> judaism? >> mazel tov, barack. >> scientology! >> what if he becomes an atheist. >> mm-hmm, no, no, no, no, no. i do not think i could trust a godless man. >> i feel you, sister. >> so does he lose your support? >> he does not. >> there is only one person we stand for like that, who can do
no wrong in our eyes, and that is kerry washington. but that doesn't mean she's the only black woman star who deserves some shine. we're going to talk about some black girls and how they rock, coming up next. [ cheeping ] [ male announcer ] you hear that? that's the sound of car insurance companies these days. here a cheap, there a cheap. everywhere a cheap... you get it. so what if instead of just a cheap choice, you could make a smart choice? like esurance for example. they were born online and built to save people money from the beginning. that's what they've always done. not just something they...cheep about. that's insurance for the modern world. esurance. now backed by allstate.
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>> when i hear the phrase, black girls rock, i see someone with a determined face. >> someone who is strong and confident. maybe like a fist up. >> i rock because i'm creative. >> i'm an "a" student. >> i love to help people in my community. >> the people that came way before me rocked. >> i'm a black girl. >> i'm a black girl. >> i'm a black girl who rocks. >> those young ladies, at least one of whom i hope you recognize from the nerdland table, they get it. but all too often, young african-american women find themselves underrepresented, if they're represented at all in media and society. and instead of starting with a clean slate, young black women often have to deal with society stereotypes, and misconceptions of who they are. black girls rock was founded in 2006, to combat those stereotypes and to build self-esteem and self-worth among young black women. tonight, on b.e.t. at 7:00 p.m., the annual black girls rock awards show airs, where women like venus williams and misty copeland, marian wright edelman,
and queen latifah will be celebrated for being positive role models. while we work to applaud those who continue to work to uplift young african-american women, we must remember that this particular struggle continues and it's far from over. at the table, beverly bond, founder of black girls rock. also, daffney brooks, professor of english and african-american studies at princeton university, and joan morgan, cultural critic and author of "when chickenheads come home to roost: my life as a hip hop feminist." thank you all for being here. beverly, tell me about black girls rock. why initiate this program? >> you know, as a hip hop deejay and a woman who has a platform in music and entertainment, i probably was more aware and conscience of a lot of messages that were being directed to women, and particularly to women of color, from people who look like them, that were damaging. and as an adult, certainly, i can navigate my way through, you
know, having critical media literacy, i understand how to, you know, maneuver. but i kept thinking, how are these messages affecting our young girls and our young boys coming up and what does this do? what does this do to them ten years later? what does this do to them at 5 years old when they ingesting a lot of this material? so what was initially the thought of starting a mentoring program for black girls rock. and i tell this story a lot. i was actually a teacher and immediately as i started writing down the different names of women who rocked, i was just going down a list and it just overwhelmed me. i was like, this is so much bigger. it was almost like those ancestors at that moment, like, this is bigger, and i was like, i have to do this. i'm doing an award show and i'm going to -- because i feel like they need to see what they're sheroes really look like. and i also felt that there needs
to be -- we need to step in and be this village and mentor our girls. >> the language that you use there, critical media literacy. i wanted to come to you on that, because i think part of what can happen, and i think actually black girls rock doesn't do this, but i think sometimes what happens in our discourse, especially around hip hop is it's negative and bad, and what we need is positive and good. and obviously, we'll know what we need is authentic and diverse, right? so i want to hear what black girls say and some of what they're going to say is not positive or nice or friendly. it's not all puppies and kittens, right? so what happens when girls get a chance to take the mic? what kind of expressions do we get from women? >> sure, it's about creating a public voice. being table to seize a cultural space in which you can change the narrative, you can perform yourself. you know, i would say rock 'n' roll is a self-making act in every way. you know, i want to also say, i'm so thrilled and honored to be at table with the both of you.
joan morgan, who is a groundbreaking journalist in every way, who has changed the narrative about hip hop for years now. black girls rock is an organization that's near and dear to my heart. i'm with a sister organization, if you don't mind me saying that. named after big momma thornton, who sound hound dog, recording three years before elvis presley. and in that camp, we're teaching our camps, it's open to all girls, but we teach anti-racist and anti-homophobic politics. we're teaching them to read the media critically, we're teaching them to cultivate a voice through music, teaching them to formulate a relationship with other girls, teaching them to formulate healthy, self-affirming definitions of themselves and teaching them to use their voices to change their community. it's a multi-faceted kind of process. >> i love the language you use there, forging alliances with other girls. and joan, i have talk your book now for a long time. i'm realizing now how long it's
been that i've been teaching your book and this idea of hip hop feminism, which you coin. but you know, always the conversation in classes, well, what does it mean to be a hip hop feminist. and it's got to be at least in part about forging alliances with other girls and women. seeing girls and women as your cohort, not as your competitors. >> absolutely. i think even by those of us who do critical work around black women, black girls, black women's bodies, we often tell the story about what's wrong and what we don't really realize, we don't impart to young women, where your power actually lies. it lies in being able to see yourself, in knowing your history, in knowing that there have historically been these fabulous alliances among black women. we're how we got through. so i think unless you champion those stories, and not play down, because they have to know that, you know, the ways that we've suffered, but you have to be really careful, not just
breaking down, like, the pathologies or feminism just can't be about dissecting racism and what intersecting oppressions do to us. we have to give them their power from a sense of pleasure and a sense of joy. >> that's right. >> i love this. that we're how we got through. and every time i watch black girls rock, you know, as much as it's for the girls, it seems like the grown women are the ones having the most fun. like, when do we get to be in space, where we just get to -- like, yes, we like each other. >> what it is, it's definitely aboutconnecting and uplifting and affirming who we are, not necessarily always looking at the negativity. black girls rock, in itself, it's an affirmation, and i was inspired by so many black women, like a joan morgan, who are out here rocking and doing incredible things and are real supporters, before i even started black girls rock, you
know? i was inspired by all the women who just appreciated that i represented women well as a deejay, you know, a male-dominated field. all my support was from women. so i was just like, you know, this is something that, it's not to say that other girls don't rock, but there are so many beautiful, wonderful, empowered black women who are doing so many things, on so many levels, and i just felt like that needed to be celebrated and said and stated. >> stick with us. we're going to talk more about this and particularly, about one of my favorite rocking black girls, which is queen latifa, when we come back. but i mentioned earlier i'm teaching a course on hip hop and feminism this semester, we're reading joan's book, of course. and as an extension of that class, my conference is hosting a mini conference next month in new orleans. you can get more information about the conference at cooperproject.org and joan is giving the keynote. up next, a message from the queen. my asthma's under control.
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haha, that's a good one! haha! [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. it fills you up right. i mean it's just great to be in your company. you know, this is cool. i just want to say that i did take ballet, but i was too big, but i did get up on my toes, but i was really kind of -- you do have the body for it. some things, got to be honest with yourself, is what my point is. keep it real, and be truthful! >> that is just a small part of queen latifah's acceptance speech, which you can see more of tonight on the annual black girls rock awards show that airs on b.e.t. at 7:00 p.m. so part of the reason i wanted to talk about latifah is because she represents all these multiple ways of representing black womenhood at various points in her career. how do you read someone like
miss dana owens? >> well, i read her as being a symbol of, you know, black womenhood, across the ages, being extremely versatile. so she starts out as a rapper. she's a singer, she's an actress, she's an entrepreneur, she's a talk show, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, talk show host. the thing that we need to remember is that black women have been multi-faceted through the ages, you know? we think back to someone like ana julia cooper you were discussing, right? having to up a all these different spaces. the blues queen that we think of being conventional and one dimensional were performing on a variety of deferent spaces, they were on the vaudeville circuit. and that's a tie-in to kerry washington, i want to underscore, from "snl," that she performs in a variety of different roles. she refused to be seen in one way only on that show. and that's something that black women have been doing through music for many, many, many years. and so latifah is another iteration of that. she's extraordinary. >> and yet, i wonder, if part of what's happened in the industry,
beverly, particularly around hip hop, has been a constraining of the kinds of roles that women can, in fact, body. so i love nicki minaj, i listen to a lot of nicki minaj. she has got me through some very hard times. but i also wonder when we had salt n pepper, when we had latifah, it's not like i want nic nicki to go away, but i want these other options in the industry. do we have space for that? >> i think we have to make space for it. when i tell you, this is really embrace, especially within hip hop, more so than people think. you know, i have rappers all the time like bev, thank you. because i have daughters. >> the idea that hip hop is 40 now, you know, so, i'm thinking that you and i, we are of an age when our entire musical lives includes hip hop. there's no possibility.
we both think of ourselves as african-american feminists, yet we also, there's no part of our lives that doesn't have hip hop as our sound track, right? and i guess part of the question is whether or not we still believe in it as something that can help us feel like we rock, or whether or not we're always fighting with both hip hop and rock and just sort of the representations of us in media. is there a way for us to have that critical media literacy, and yet also be consumers of this space? >> well, i think it's absolutely necessary. i mean, one of the things, the questions that are coming up for me all the time is how do you grow up in hip hop? i mean, like, really grow up. not grow up, but grow up. like become 48 and have a teenager. and just, you know, it is very much youth culture in many ways. so for me it's always very critical to remember that hip hop informed my aesthetic love for hip hop, certainly informed my feminism, but it also gave me a particular advantage point to
critique hip hop culture and critique, also just to be honest, popular culture at large. and so i think that it's quite fine to become comfortable with the role of the critic in. and acknowledge when the music is not speaking to you in particularly ways, i also just -- >> is it just us being old? is it just that like now we're old people and we're like, oh, our music was better than their music. it's a real thing? >> and i know this for a fact, because when young people are exposed to the hip hop we came up on, they love it. they absolutely love it. >> and i can tell you that even with my mentes, what they key into is actually music that is more classic and older than they are and what they prefer. their favorite artists are still -- if you ask them their favorite female artist, they'll see mc light and lauren hill every single time. >> literally, the sonic, the sound of her voice is something that is no longer available to us, a woman with a voice that
has that certain kind of androgynous, you know, wonderfully sexualized appeal, that doesn't feel like it's a commoditized sexuality. >> and also content. like, they are, like, we don't give young people enough credit and we should make smarter art. you know what i mean? we should try to be better and try to put the best of what we have to offer out there. >> right. i like this idea of smarter rather than just more positive, because what i don't ever want to do is become the old lady respectability police, that says, pull up your pants! >> exactly! >> i like the idea of smarter, more complex, more authentic in some ways. >> and then we're talking about an artist like jonelle monet, who scholars really love and we hope that will cross over more, but here's an artist that is so deeply citational, historical, you know, she's got a little richard pompadour, the james brown cape, right, she's got the prince, you know, soundscape.
she's got this working at a vocal level. and the fact that she's using this kind of performtive excess, right? she's denying -- she's resisting the idea of being defined as only one way, as a black woman. so i think she's really -- and in terms of musical genera, too, you know, hip hop, punk rock, so i think it's really important to be able to identify these women who kind of working on the fringes trying to do some different ways of, you know, being black women in american culture today. >> i miss you! i haven't seen you in a long time and you just told me that jonelle monet was citacious. thank you, ladies. and we are all going to be tuning in tonight. because black girls, do, indeed rock. and it's one of those shows that just makes you feel good. up next, this is the most
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here in nerdland, we share a floor and a work schedule with our good friends from "up with steve kornacki," which as many of you know airs right before this show. now, during the last few weeks, i have seen many contestants come and go, rise and fall, all while testing their smarts in steve's popular political game show "up against the clock." now, the brilliant minds that have graced the podium range from congressman rush holt to "the washington post's" jonathan
capehart. you get a little bit of intellectual credibility from one of the smartest people around, steve kornacki. so i was honored when steve invited me to be a contestant on the show next saturday. here's the thing. my team and me, we consider ourselves nerds. while the folks over at "up," we call them wonks. now, nerds handle the analytic part of information. tell us what happens, and we'll tell you what it means. but wonks, they just know everything. so in order to make all of my melissa harris-perry viewers proud, i have spent the last week in serious training. i'm ready, coach. ♪ lbj was president in 1964.
oh! >> all right, kid. give me 25 reps. >> oh, richard nixon, ronald reagan. it was hard, the confederacy. >> you call that reading? >> ahh! >> i know they keep them around here somewhere. where are those "up against the clock" podiums? ha! yes! there it is. i'm ready. where's my coach? >> hit the buzzer! [ buzzer ] >> i said hit the buzzer! [ buzzer ] >> according to standard and
poor's, how much -- >> downgrade. >> -- how much -- >> b-minus. >> girl, you are ready. >> that is what we call nerd pride. thanks to my coach, my executive producer there. that's our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. i'll see you next saturday 8:45 a.m. eastern for "up against the clock" and then for "mhp" at 10:00 a.m. now a preview of "weekends with alex witt." >> seriously? you want me to follow that? thank you for sharing. anyway, what we've got to share with all of you, the architect of romney care and obama care will join me. plus, new reaction from chris christie on why mitt romney did not choose him as his running
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